St Albans edge Chippenham at Clarence Park
PUBLISHED: 21:42 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 08:36 18 February 2014
St Albans City responded to Saturday’s loss with a 1-0 win over Chippenham Town at Clarence Park on Monday night.
The win keeps them third in the table but it was far from the performance that joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds would have wanted and expected.
John Frendo won the game in the 20th minute, latching on Chris Henry’s inch perfect cross to fire a left-footed volley past Chippenham’s goalkeeper Ben John. Play in the second half deteriorated and City needed some last ditch defending plus one acrobatic save from Paul Bastock to secure the slender win.
Having lost 1-0 to Bideford on Saturday, City were looking to bounce back and they crafted the first chance of the game. Howard Hall and Mark Nwokeji linked up down the right wing before the former whipped in a low cross which Chris Henry just failed to steer towards goal.
John Frendo came within inches of opening the score in to the 10th minute but his curling, left footed free-kick struck the foot of Ben John’s post. The woodwork rescued Chippenham again four minutes later as Henry struck the bar from four yards, luckily for him, the offside flag saved his blushes.
City’s onslaught continued to put the visitors under pressure and Frendo came close again as a James Comley pull back fell just too far in front from him.
The Saints opened the scoring in the 20th minute and Henry, who terrorised Chippenham in the early exchanges, was the architect. After receiving the ball on the right wing, he delivered a deep cross for Frendo who just managed to get his left foot on the ball and direct it across John into the bottom corner.
Lee Chappell almost forced an own goal in the 39th minute. After a counter attack led by Mark Nwokeji came to a halt, Chappell took over a whipped in a teasing cross which was deflected towards the Chippenham goal, forcing John to tip the ball past the post.
The advantage should have been doubled by Frendo in the last five minutes of the half as Ram Marwa put him through one-on-one with a defence-splitting pass. But he tried to chip the goalkeeper, who held on while falling backwards.
Frendo then had to spent time on the sideline after suffering a cut lip. While he was off Chippenham’s Lee Phillips flashed a shot across Paul Bastock, which just missed the far post.
By the time the referee, Lee Forrester, blew the half-time whistle, City were leading by a single strike but it could, have perhaps should, have been more.
After the break City’s poise deserted them for the first 10 minutes, allowing Chippenham to build pressure. Only some last ditch defending kept the score level while Saints found their footing in the half.
For all their defending, Frendo almost doubled City’s lead against the run of play but his left footed snap shot from 20 yards rolled past the post.
The hosts then called upon on Bastock to keep their lead, which he did with a fantastic save onto the bar that belied his 44 years to deny Joe McClennan. Griffin put the follow up over the bar.
Despite being on the back foot, City still had their moments. First when a ball inside the full back from Chappell released Henry and when Frendo dragged a shot wide but it was Chippenham who looked more dangerous. On one attack Tom Ward put in a perfect challenge to dispossess Griffin in the box.
Henry was substituted just after the hour mark, ending an excellent display in rare start, making way for Jamal Lowe. Soon after, Elliot Bailey replaced Nwokeji for his first action since returning from his loan spell at Colney Heath.
St Albans joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds made their third substitue with 10 minutes remaining, bringing on Peter Dean for Frendo.
Lowe, in his penultimate game before he returns to Barnet, had three chances to seal the game but twice he fired wide and once he opted to pass but it was too strong for Dean to reach.
The final 10 minutes were very open as Chippenham pressed for an equaliser and City tried to kill the game, but neither side managed to really test the keeper and the game ended 1-0 to St Albans.
City starting line up: Paul Bastock; Howard Hall; Lee Chappell; Ben Martin; Tom Ward; James Kaloczi; Ram Marwa; James Comley; Chris Henry; John Frendo; Mark Nwokeji. Subs: Jamal Lowe; Matt Taylor; Elliot Bailey; Richard Graham; Peter Dean; Danny Green.
Chippenham: Ben John; Harley Purnell; Pete Monks; Brian Smith; Aaron Oakley; Greg Tindle; Joe McClennan; Rob Dean, Alan Griffin; Lee Phillips; Tyron Leigh. Subs: Luke Hopper; James Guthrie; Jake Simpson; Corey King; Kent Kauppinen.